Heart Healthy Habits You Need to Be Following Every Day

This post is meant to provide general information only and is not a sponsored post. Please get advice from your doctor before making any changes to your diet/health regimen.

While American Heart Month might be ending soon, it’s not over yet! We still have plenty of time to discuss the risks of heart disease and preventative measures that you and your family can take to improve your heart health.

Did you know that heart disease is the number one leading cause of deaths for adults in the United States? To put that in perspective, 1 in every 3 adults die from a cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association. This averages out to one death every 38 seconds.

While such a prevalent disease may seem inevitable, by identifying the risk factors that affect us and our family members, we can take preventative steps to reduce our chances of heart disease and other serious health conditions.

Note: Please always consult with your doctor regarding your health, diet, and exercise. This post is not meant to offer medical advice in any way.

Some individuals have predisposed risk factors such as age, gender, race, or a personal/family medical history of heart disease. Although we can’t change our age or family medical history, we can turn our attention to some of the controllable factors that cause heart disease.

High blood pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension affects 78 million adults in the United States. It occurs when the pressure of your blood is built up consistently high against the blood vessel walls; this can strain your heart and blood vessels, making them less efficient over time.

Stress, smoking, a lack of exercise, and a poor diet can all contribute to high blood pressure, so it’s important to find ways to limit these unhealthy habits.

There are medications you can take to lower high blood pressure, but there are also simple changes that you can make with your family’s help and encouragement.

 Some of these changes include quitting smoking, taking up stress-relieving activities like meditation or yoga, and adding more exercise into your life.

Consider incorporating active family outings into your week like a walk around the neighborhood after dinner or a weekend bike ride.

The American Heart Association recommends the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet to help lower your blood pressure. The diet limits red meat, sodium, and processed sugary foods.

Related: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

High cholesterol

High cholesterol is diagnosed when a person’s LDL (bad cholesterol) levels are high and their HDL (good cholesterol) levels are low. High LDL can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. Not only does this buildup put a strain on your blood vessels and heart, but if plaque breaks off, it can clog the artery and cause a heart attack.

If you are diagnosed with high cholesterol, your doctor may put you on statins and an additional blood thinner if your doctor believes you may be at risk for blood clots. However, both of these medications may have serious risks themselves.

For example, thousands of patients have filed lawsuits against the blood thinner Xarelto because of severe bleeding incidents. Rather than put yourself at greater risk of harm, diet and exercise can do wonders to lower your cholesterol. Always discuss the best treatment with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

Research from the Harvard Medical School recommends lowering the number of refined sugars, refined grains, and foods high in saturated or trans-saturated fat.

Aim to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. This is a great list of foods recommended to naturally lower your LDL and raise your HDL.

Prediabetes and Diabetes

If you have prediabetes (high blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diabetic) or type 2 diabetes, you also have greater odds of having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, thereby increasing your risk for heart disease.

Unlike high blood pressure or high cholesterol, a type 2 diabetic can’t treat their symptoms without medications. At the very least, a diabetic needs regular insulin injections and must monitor their blood glucose levels carefully. They can, however, still use healthy habits to make their diabetes more manageable.

A regular exercise routine is highly recommended for a person with type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar levels. Again, it doesn’t have to be an intense workout, and if you are starting a workout plan for the first time, consult your doctor with any concerns.

As far as diet goes, the American Diabetes Association recommends using the glycemic index for meal planning. This index rates foods on a scale based on how they impact a person’s blood sugar levels.

Heart disease affects thousands of Americans per year, and the risk factors involved are just as prevalent in American lives. However, if we make small changes to benefit our heart health, we can start to change these statistics in our country.

Don’t confine the conversation of heart health to the month of February. Make it a year-long initiative to protect you and your loved ones for the future!

Note: Please always consult with your doctor regarding your health, diet, and exercise. This post is not meant to offer medical advice in any way.